The multi-gig, multi-venue two day extravaganza that is Camden Crawl 2010 is a chance for the less hardy festival goer to indulge themselves in a plethora of new and established acts in the bad smelling bars, clubs, pubs, toilet-venues and concert halls of indie-tastic Camden, yet still get a good nights sleep in their own soft bed at the end of the night. The 2010 line up saw many punters attracted by big names such as the Sugababes, Calvin Harris and Lost Prophets at the Roundhouse venue, but for the new music connoisseur there was a plethora of lesser known delights to be discovered.
Inevitably, there was rain, cider was consumed and line up clashes meant that it wasn’t possible to see everything (The Gold Panda / Chew Lips / DEKADE / Clock Opera / Samuel and the Dragon / Lightspeed Champion six way clash on the second day was particularly disappointing) , but it wouldn’t be a festival without such features. The anticipated lengthy queues to get into venues didn’t materialise for Breaking More Waves (although admittedly on day one we only 'crawled' between two venues) and after watching full sets by seventeen acts over two days, the ticket price seemed like money well spent.
Saturdays Canadian Blast showcase at the Fiddlers Elbow was the perfect way to gently acquaint oneself with the event, and also provided one of the highlights of the weekend. The soft focus, sixties tinged folk harmonies of Wilderness of Manitoba (pictured) are effortlessly warm and wonderful. Understated cellos, banjos, bowl rubbing and child-like acoustic guitar interplay with dreamy male and female vocals to produce something utterly beguiling and beautiful - if no other band had played for the rest of the weekend it would have been worth it. Before this unexpected delight the band also help out as backing group to Octoberman, who covers the Springsteen classic I’m On Fire amongst his own slightly fragile folky tunes. The Polish born Canadian Artur Dyjencinski plays sultry downbeat tunes, his vintage melancholic baritone sounding like something from a black and white movie of old. With a band that includes a guitarist / co-vocalist from Sunderland who sports a brimmed red hat, they’re multi-national, and Artur confuses the issue even further by admitting that he thought that Sunderland was in Germany.
After Canadian Blast a blast of other sorts occurs as rain hammers down on the impractical fashions of the indie kids of London. It’s just as well this isn’t a festival in a field as there’s not a pair of wellies to be seen, ill advised short dresses, skinny jeans, hip hugging shorts and converse shoes being the order of the day. Thrashy electronic duo Kap Bambino makes sure that everyone dries out quickly though by generating heat with their mosh pit inducing blend of hardcore electro. Digital punk princess vocalist Caroline fizzes with energy, jumping into the crowd, screaming into her microphone whilst a barrage of beats and dirty computer noise assaults the ears. The performance is very Crystal Castles-esque - a frenzied blur of a one night stand fun.
Just back from a festival in Norway, the keyboard player of Stornoway sports a most unrock ‘n’ roll of pair of casual red trousers, but even this fashion faux pas cannot stop the band from producing simply charming songs about romance, travel and nature. Unfortunately the big space of Koko does the bands songs no favours, the sound losing intimacy and it’s only their more upbeat songs such as I Saw You Blink, Zorbing and the closing Watching Birds that really grab the audience. Smoke Fairies suffer the same problem. Their medieval blues conjures images of unicorns, misty moss covered forests and pagan dancers and would probably be utterly bewitching in a small attentive room. Unfortunately in the vast heights of Koko with a chattering crowd to battle against something extraordinary is lost.
They can now be filed in the box named ‘classic’, having been around for twenty years, yet Teenage Fanclub fail to ignite and their performance feels a little vacant and cold. Their songs are admirably well crafted and full of harmonies but their performance lacks the venom that is required at this later point in the evening. That is left to Autokratz and their twitching, pulsing spiked electronic jams that get hands in the air and the crowd grooving - a hedonistic end to the first day of the crawl.